Many people, especially those in the service industry, are the victim of unfair wage practices. Federal law requires that all workers are paid at least minimum wage and are not forced to work more than 40 hours per week without overtime pay. Unfortunately, employees often do not speak up against unfair wages for fear of retaliation from their employers. However, retaliation itself is also illegal under federal employment laws.
Federal Wage and Hour Requirements
The Fair Labor Standards Act requires that employees be paid fairly for the work they perform. The Act states that:
- Employees must be paid at least the federal minimum wage. The current rate is $7.25 an hour. (If your state has a higher state-wide minimum wage, your employer must offer you that wage rather than the lower federal minimum wage.)
- Employees must be paid one and one half times their hourly wage for overtime work, which includes any work past 40 hours per week.
Workers must be paid for their job-related activities performed before or after a shift ends, as well as for travel time between job sites.
When employers fail to pay their workers fairly, workers have a legal right to report the unfair practices. Sadly, sometimes bringing attention to an employer’s illegal practices causes the employer to retaliate by punishing or firing the employee. Therefore, many wage and overtime violations go unreported and employees are cheated out of the money they have rightfully earned and are owed.
However, federal employment law also prohibits employers from taking retaliatory action against employers who report violations. This means that it is illegal for employers to fire, demote, or otherwise punish workers for speaking up against unfair wages and requesting the money they are owed.